Polish Bigos – Hunter’s Stew
Milwaukee may have one of the largest Polish communities in the midwest. The church where my wife and I got married in, the Basilica of St. Josaphat actually had a Polish restaurant directly across the street. I went to school with kids whose last name ended with ‘ski’. Milwaukee has an annual Polish fest as well, and we attended this year and devoured all of the food that had to offer, and may I add very delicious food. Typically the only Polish cuisine that I was familiar with was Polish sausage, but there are so many great dishes out there such as Polish meatloaf, pierogies, and all things cabbage. The cabbage, or should I say sauerkraut is what let me to this recipe known as bigos, or hunter’s stew. It immediately grabs your attention due to the simple ingredients, but the flavor is just out of this world.
Bigos is not the prettiest of dishes, but it does provide comfort in every way, shape, and form. Bigos is typically served with potatoes, and uses sauerkraut and a variety of pork.
Let’s get started.
- 2 14 oz can of Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 mushroom bouillon
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 lb polish sausage, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
- 12 oz beer
- roasted baby yukon potatoes, or 1 baking potato
- 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 2 tbsp canola oil
Start by heating two skillets on medium heat. To each skillet add one tablespoon of canola oil. Let this come up to temperature.
To one skillet add the pork shoulder and sliced polish sausage. Brown on all sides, then remove to a plate to be used to make the bigos.
To the other skillet add the onions, mushroom, and garlic. Stir and let these cook down for about 8 minutes.
During this time, heat the water to a boil and add in the mushroom bouillon cube. Break that down until the cube is dissolved. Turn off the heat.
When the onion mixture is cooked down, add in the tomato paste, and stir that into the mixture, cooking the paste for about 5 minutes.
The tomato paste might stick to the pan due to the heat, but that’s OK because we are going to use the beer to deglaze the mixture.
After the tomato paste is cooked through, add the beer, and use your wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet. Add in the washed and drained kraut and give that a good stir. Toss in the salt and pepper.
To a medium or large pot, add the mixture, and add in the semi cooked pork. Add in the mushroom stock, and stir.
Bring this to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for about 3 hours on low heat.
The end result is a dish that has this slight bit of sourness to it that you cannot get your hands on but want to keep coming back for more. The sausage and pork just falls apart and is a perfect pairing with the kraut. It almost reminds me of Filipino adobo If you are looking for a great, comforting Polish recipe, give this one a try. It’s perfect for this time of year!